I recently went for a Yoga Retreat, organised by both Fitness First (FF) and Celebrity Fitness (CF), at Tanjung Jara Resort. We were in the second batch, due to an overwhelming response from the first batch held three weeks prior. In fact, the retreat was supposedly fully booked and paid for before the poster (for the second batch) went up on the notice board, which in the end it never did.
This retreat had come in a seemingly perfect and imperfect time, depending on if you see the glass half full or half empty. I was overloaded at work in November, and before I went away, I had the unsettling feeling of being irresponsible for leaving unfinished work. To which my superior responded: “There’s never a good time to go for a holiday. Make time anyway.”
And I am glad I did.
Day 1 – 24 November 2018 (Saturday)
With less than 3 hours of sleep, I was up to catch the 6.30 am bus from Kepong Village Mall (thanks to my parents who woke up so early to drop me off). I was asleep throughout the bus ride, apart from the occasional nudge from my buddy if I wanted to go for toilet breaks at rest stops.
As we reached the resort about noon, we were pleasantly surprised by the good weather, contrary to the gloomy weather of the prior batch. After we disembarked from the bus and unloaded our luggage, the resort welcomed us with a gong, which was so extra and completely unnecessary.
As we braced ourselves for the worst of lunch, I was once again pleasantly surprised by how delicious the vegetarian food was. Vegetarian lunch was served in preparation for the Day 2 detox session. It was a nice feeling to not have to eat at my desk while performing trial and error simulations at work.
The place was picturesque; with the sandy beach and the clear blue sky, a much-needed change of scenery from staring at the computer screen for 12 hours a day. I caught up with my friend Looh who filled me in with the happenings inside and outside Fitness First. It had only been a month since I left, although I had staggeringly being absent from the gym since early this year.
That afternoon, we went for the Jara Hill walk, which could have easily been renamed as “The Mosquito Trail” as most of us were having too much trouble trying to squat the mosquitoes to pay attention to what the tour guide was saying. In the evening, we had some Malaysian delicacies such as lekor and apam balik. Determined to eliminate things I don’t eat, I chose to eat digested the peanut pancake (apam balik), bite by bite. Slowly, but surely.
Both Looh and I arrived early for the first yoga session of the trip. Before the session began, I was observing the room as I noticed the CF instructors seated at the front who later led the first session. As I noticed them looking at me with a strange face, I approached them to greet them, as Nicholas said “You look familiar”. It was very kind of him to remember me from WhatsApp when I texted him for a consultation. Some days I felt invisible and was perfectly fine with it, but it was moments like this that reminded me that those days were long gone.
As the crowd gradually filled the room, the session began with a high level explanation of the detox session on Day 2. The night started I attended my first Yin Yoga session, a slow-paced yoga style with asanas held for an extended time (~3 mins). I was happy to be able to slow down just a little, a drastic change from being powered and fuelled by caffeine in the past month. As I laid still in the different asanas, I cleared my mind and put aside my to-do list and simply be present.
Day 2 – 25 November 2018 (Sunday)
We started the day off with torture, a.k.a the detox session. Nicholas refreshed the five exercises needed to enhance detoxification; mock diving, side twist, side crunch, cobra twist, and kneel and twist. The exercises were performed 8 times each (no particular reason apparently, auspicious number perhaps), from the left side first, alternate with two small cups of salt water. I paced myself, knowing how my body react to sudden influx of unwanted food. Some of the people threw up in the toilet while others successfully flushed toxins out. The toilet was so well utilised that at one point, the cleaning lady asked us how long the detox session was going to be.
Later that afternoon, Sop Fan and Chris led a hatha yoga session. It was refreshing to have a gentle stretch after a long period of time hunched over the desktop at work. Both of their teaching styles are different as Chris started with a more serious practice while Sop Fan lightened the mood of the room.
As we lingered around at the end of the session, Looh and I tried acro yoga, and soon, others who were in the room joined in the fun. It was quite a nice bonding experience as we took turn to become base and flyers. I saw a slight moment of terror on Helen’s face as flyer in strong poses, which was cute and reminded us that instructors are humans too.
The chakra healing session was where things got a little interesting for me. For those unfamiliar, there are seven chakras in the centre of our bodies, which energies flow through. Each chakra is represented by a colour:
- Red – Root Chakra — Represents our foundation and feeling of being grounded.
- Orange – Sacral Chakra — Our connection and ability to accept others and new experiences.
- Yellow – Solar Plexus Chakra — Our ability to be confident and in control of our lives.
- Green – Heart Chakra — Our ability to love.
- Blue – Throat Chakra — Our ability to communicate.
- Indigo – Third Eye Chakra — Our ability to focus on and see the big picture.
- Violet – Crown Chakra — The highest chakra represents our ability to be fully connected spiritually.
Shortly after we laid in savasana, I started to see a white light, while my eyes were still shut, as though someone holding a torchlight is walking towards me. A short while later, the white light started to turn into purple and faded in and out like a ripple effect. It became a lots of ripples of purple droplets started fading in and out. And all of a sudden, the ripples turned into burst of rainbows that dotted the screen of my eyes (still closed), as I watched (kind of) in amazement. What colourful display!
I was startled by the start of the singing bowl, and the colours suddenly faded out as I once again stare (still with my eyes closed) into still darkness. Nicholas would mentioned the colours and the chakra it represented. As he progressed up the different chakra, the colours came in gradual ripples, in soft pastel colours. It was a really pretty sight. Towards the end, I was distracted by people’s snoring, and giggled; that was when I was once again propelled to the stillness of darkness.
Perhaps the ability for me to see these colours is similar to being able to see a white light at the crown of my head when I occasionally prayed at night in a pitch black room. Or the fact that I am very prone to supernatural entities. Or perhaps it is simply, the ability to keep an open and blank mind during the session. I did not know what my experience signified, but it was indeed an interesting experience.
Day 3 – 26 November 2018 (Monday)
The day started with sunrise yoga by the beach. It was a beautiful sight as I watched the sky gradually brightened, and the sun rays peeked out from the cluster of clouds. After the session, Looh was kind enough to help me take some nice yoga photos. We packed up and went home after a hearty breakfast and lunch.
An interesting fact I learnt during this trip, was that the journey of the CF instructors were by accident, and it was in meeting the right people who believed in them and nudged them to the right direction, coupled with their slow but steady progress, that led them to where they are today. Sometimes, life doesn’t turn out the way you expect, but wherever the path leads us, come what may.
Here are some of the photos during the trip